Senior Vice President – Global Sales
Bob Somers is Senior Vice President – Global Sales for Delta Air Lines. In this role he is responsible for leading a global sales team focused on maximizing premium revenue and share performance with Delta’s commercial account base around the world.
Since joining Delta in 1983, Bob has held various positions of increasing responsibility in the Sales and Marketing divisions. Most recently, Bob served as Vice President – Global Sales where he was responsible for Delta’s relationship with its largest corporate, agency, and specialty accounts.
With more than 37 years of industry experience, Bob’s background at Delta also includes positions such as Managing Director – Corporate and Specialty Sales and General Manager – Global Corporate Sales. Prior to joining the Sales department, Bob worked in Airport Customer Service as well as Marketing, Advertising and Sales Promotions.
Bob is a member of the Global Business Travel Association and was honored with the GBTA Allied member of the year in 2016 as well as one of the Business Travel News 25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives in 2016.
He serves on the boards of the Foundation for Hospital Art, the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, The College Football Hall of Fame, and most recently closed out his 4th consecutive year as the Chairman of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Since the last GBTA Convention, we have seen a lot of changes within the Global Business Travel industry, particularly for air carriers. Can you please talk about Delta’s strategy when it comes to corporate travel?
Taking care of our business travelers and you – our corporate customers – remains a core Annual Corporate Flight Plan goal at Delta. Unlike some of our competitors, we have an unrelenting focus on the corporate customer. That’s why we refer to our team, our brand, and the tools and support for you as Delta Business. We launched the Delta Business brand with a tagline of “YOUR PARTNER IN TRAVEL” since everything we do here at Delta Business focuses our partnership with you. Delta is the leader in business travel, and we are proud of our commitment to our corporate travelers and partners. We continue to live by our mission to “Listen-Act-Listen.” to ensure we’re doing right by our customers. We have a long history of partnership and collaboration with our corporate and agency customers, and if anything, that commitment has only increased.
We understand and respect the unique needs of business travelers and their managed travel programs, which requires partnership across the entire travel experience (i.e., CTMs / TMCs). We pride ourselves on trust, transparency, and being the easiest airline to do business with. We will continue to invest in innovation, products, and services that elevate the business traveler experience. Delta is the preferred airline for business travel – evidenced by a No. 1 ranking from Corporate Travel Managers in the BTN annual Airline Survey for a historic 12 years in a row.
At the same time, we’re committed to taking care of our people, which allows us to take care of our customers – we call this the virtuous cycle. Our welcoming, caring people bring humanity to the corporate travel experience. As customers deepen their relationship with us, we can serve them better, with more seamless journeys, proactive and flexible care, and memorable interactions. In short, our people are the best in the business and truly the foundation of our success.
Distribution remains a hot topic across the industry for air suppliers. Delta has held a leadership role for Distribution in previous years, will you share how Delta sees Distribution continuing to evolve and how you will incorporate NDC?
We’re committed to collaborative innovation that improves the customer experience and elevates the entire corporate travel ecosystem. We believe that new technology should be introduced to the market when it’s mature enough to deliver incremental customer value with minimal risk to the overall experience. We will continue along our current path alongside our distribution guiding principles:
- Meet customers in channel of choice.
- New products and modern displays are critical for NDC.
- Deliver NDC via GDS.
- Don’t force immature technology into the market.
- Pace innovation with ecosystem readiness.
- No surcharge or content removal.
We remain supportive and actively engaged in NDC. We also believe in an evolutionary vs. revolutionary approach to NDC – ensuring benefit for the customer and airline. It’s critically important to not only have transparent display and booking capabilities, but also the necessary servicing capabilities required to deliver a seamless traveler experience. As the landscape continues to evolve, Delta stands with our customers and industry partners.
What’s the latest and greatest when it comes to the customer experience? What can travelers look forward to as you gear up for a busy summer season ahead?
The Delta team across the globe continues to raise the bar to ensure an elevated customer experience. From takeoff to touchdown, fast, free Wi-Fi for SkyMiles Members is now available on most domestic U.S. flights for an even more connected travel experience. It has received extremely positive feedback, especially among our corporate customers. Free Wi-Fi will be available across our global fleet by the end of 2024.
Similarly, we launched Delta Sync earlier this year with the goal of elevating your travel journey like never before, specifically for you, through experiences we are currently building, that will enhance every aspect of your journey. With Delta Sync, SkyMiles Members will enjoy personalized digital services and experiences built to better serve them across their journey. Delta Sync has unlimited potential to create moments that delight, recognize, and reward our customers – a refined and custom human connection.
Delta Sync will introduce new touchpoints for customers this year, including exclusive in-flight entertainment, more ways to enjoy your favorite onboard food and beverage, and exclusive partnerships with top consumer brands that gives customers more to discover on every trip.
All along the way, we continue to provide industry-leading operations and a network based directly on customer demand and feedback. In 2015, Delta launched our Operational Performance Commitment (OPC) – an industry-first promise to deliver operational excellence or compensate your company. Delta is the only U.S. global carrier to continuously honor its operational commitment. And despite recent operational challenges, Delta’s year-to-date performance remains on track to fulfill our OPC commitment over the full calendar year.
And supporting our operations every step of the way is our Global Sales Support (GSS) team. Global Sales Support consists of a best-in-class team, available 24/7/365 to provide support for our travel agency partners and their travelers. To further support our travelers, Delta launched the industry’s first Sales Support Chat functionality to travel agency partners in 2020, providing travel agents real-time access to Global Sales Support Associates. In addition to phone support, this communication tool is part of Delta’s effort to bring more ways to engage our Global Sales Support team and receive expert service at a moment’s notice.
What are some of the latest B2B programs and innovations Delta is working on?
Innovation is part of who we are, and it’s in our Delta Business DNA. We’re making travel more seamless and less stressful, and we’re leading the industry with cutting-edge technology and best-in-class service. We’re motivated by the desire to improve operational efficiency in a way that makes our customers’ lives easier. A few callouts:
Our multi-year evolution of Delta Professional includes a modernization and streamlined approach to the self-service offerings we’ve built for you over the years. The refreshed site leans into a modernized user experience and is optimized with quicker navigation for you and your teams.
We’re continuing to prioritize business travelers across the travel journey with Corporate Priority benefits like Priority Boarding and Preferred seats, a suite of benefits that streamlines the travel experience around the world – this is something unique to Delta and our partners.
Another way we’re continuing to prioritize business travelers is through our Status Match program – and earlier this year, we expanded our status match program to all business travelers. With these enhancements, your travelers will instantly have more reason than ever to try Delta’s elevated onboard product and services.
All of these innovations are a result of the relationship between your company and Delta Business. Please keep providing feedback that makes our programs and offerings better for our mutual travelers.
What does the word “partnership” mean to Delta?
At its core, a successful partnership is all about the people. Our Delta Business salesforce is committed to the relationships with have with our B2B partners around the globe. The relationships our best-in-class sellers provide is inspired by Delta’s Listen-Act-Listen approach that ensures our business is based on the needs of your business. Our Global Sales Support professionals are available 24/7/365 – whenever and however you need them.